Planter of Seeds
Release Date: June 7, 2024
Label: Self Release

Planter of Seeds is bassist/composer Jake Leckie’s third release as a bandleader and explores what beauty can come tomorrow from the seeds we plant today. What are we putting in the ground? What are we building? What is the village we want to bring our children up in? At the core of the ensemble is The Guide Trio, his working band with guitarist Nadav Peled and drummer Beth Goodfellow, who played on Leckie’s second album, The Guide, a rootsy funky acoustic analog folk-jazz recording released on Ropeadope records in 2022. For Planter of Seeds, the ensemble is augmented by Cathlene Pineda (piano), Randal Fisher (tenor saxophone), and Darius Christian (trombone), who infuse freedom and soul into the already tightly established ensemble. 

Eight original compositions were pristinely recorded live off the floor of Studio 3 at East West Studios in Hollywood CA, and mastered by A.T. Michael MacDonald. The cover art is by internationally acclaimed visual artist Wayne White. Whereas his previous work has been compared to Charles Mingus, and  Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden, Leckie’s new collection sits comfortably between the funky odd time signatures of the Dave Holland Quintet and the modern folk-jazz of the Brian Blade Fellowship Band with a respectful nod towards the late 1950s classic recordings of Ahmad Jamal and Miles Davis.

The title track, “Planter of Seeds,” is dedicated to a close family friend, who was originally from Trinidad, and whenever she visited family or friends at their homes, without anyone knowing, she would plant seeds she kept in her pocket in their gardens, so the next season beautiful flowers would pop up. It was a small altruistic anonymous act of kindness that brought just a little more beauty into the world. The rhythm is a tribute to Ahmad Jamal, who we also lost around the same time, and whose theme song Poinciana is about a tree from the Caribbean. 

“Big Sur Jade” was written on a trip Leckie took with his wife to Big Sur, CA, and is a celebration of his family and community. This swinging 5/4 blues opens with an unaccompanied bass solo, and gives an opportunity for each of the musicians to share their improvisational voices. “Clear Skies” is a cathartic up-tempo release of collective creative energies in fiery improvisational freedom. “The Aquatic Uncle” features Randal Fisher’s saxophone and is named after an Italo Calvino short story which contemplates if one can embrace the new ways while being in tune with tradition. In ancient times, before a rudder, the Starboard side of the ship was where it was steered from with a steering oar. In this meditative quartet performance, the bass is like the steering oar of the ensemble: it can control the direction of the music, and when things begin to unravel or become unhinged, a simple pedal note keeps everything grounded.

The two trio tunes on the album are proof that the establishment of his consistent working band The Guide Trio has been a fruitful collaboration. “Santa Teresa”, a bouncy samba-blues in ⅞ time, embodies the winding streets and stairways of the bohemian neighborhood in Rio de Janeiro it is named for. The swampy drum feel on “String Song” pays homage to Levon Helm of The Band, a group where you can’t always tell who wrote the song or who the bandleader is, proving that the sum is greater than the individual parts. Early jazz reflected egalitarianism in collective improvisation, and this group dynamic is an expression of that kind of inclusivity and democracy.

“The Daughters of the Moon” rounds out the album, putting book ends on the naturalist themes. This composition is named after magical surrealist Italo Calvino’s short story about consumerism, in which a mythical modern society that values only buying shiny new things throws away the moon like it is a piece of garbage and the daughters of the moon save it and resurrect it. It’s an eco-feminist take on how women are going to save the world. Pineda’s piano outro is a hauntingly beautiful lunar voyage, blinding us with love. Leckie dedicates this song to his daughter: “My hope is that my daughter becomes a daughter of the moon, helping to make the world a more beautiful and verdant place to live.”

Album: The Abode
Street Date: January 25th, 2019
Label: Outside In Music

Having lent his talents to a myriad of recordings as both a musician and engineer, bassist Jake Leckie is now thrilled to establish himself as a bandleader, composer and arranger on The Abode. Joined by Kenny Warren on trumpet and flugelhorn, Sebastien Ammann on piano and Nathan Ellman-Bell on drums, along with other special guests, Jake Leckie presents this eight-track collection as a meditation on migration, understanding, and empathy. Paying tribute to the people and places that have collectively attributed to Leckie’s identity, the compositions heard on The Abode evoke a true sense of place and home. On Friday January 11, Leckie will preview The Abode at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 3 at 11:30 PM in New York City. On Thursday February 21, the album release show will be at ArtShare L.A. at 8pm in Los Angeles.

Initially, Leckie intended on having a quartet solely record on this album. However, upon making the decision to move with his wife from New York to LA just ahead of recording, the bi-coastal bassist brought together a melting pot of featured musicians:  a string quartet comprised of Andrei Matorin, Tomoko Omura, and Agustin Uriburu with arrangements by Danny Jonokuchi, vocalist Alexis Morrast who gave life to lyrics written by Leckie’s wife Becca on “After the Flood”,  organist Ivey Paige and tambourine player Brenda Trotter-Workman, saxophonist Caroline Davis and percussionist Daniel Prim. During production, Leckie was joined by one of his closest bass friends, Adam Hopkins. This amalgamation of friends and colleagues was no accident - “bringing all of these people in just as I left New York made this project a capstone of my experience there and showed me how much of a home I had carved out during my tenure”, Leckie reflects. When Leckie, known for his “polyphonic openness to anything and everything” composes, he borrows a concept from design, known as “MAYA”: most advanced yet acceptable.  With a compositional approach reflective of Charles Mingus and Brian Blade Fellowship, and a group improvisational style that has been compared to Keith Jarrett’s American Quartet with Charlie Haden, Leckie strives to create music that is elevated, acoustic and organic, while simultaneously burrowing a deep engagement with his audience.

The opening and title track of the album is reminiscent of Alice Coltrane’s concept of Heaven, "The Supreme Abode”, a term found in her memoir, Monument Eternal. Leckie appreciates how Coltrane’s groovy modal free-jazz spoke to the civil rights movement of her time - “this is not a political record, but I do believe it is important for us to realize that we are all migratory people, and through this project by exploring my roots I see where I came from, and have empathy towards those leaving their homes searching for a better life”.

Among other stand-out tracks on the album is “After the Flood”, which sympathizes with the people of Houston and Puerto Rico. These victims of natural disaster were faced with the heartbreaking decision of leaving behind their houses - their homes - forever. “Negev” is inspired by Abraham’s journey through The Negev desert upon being banished from Egypt. Leckie reflects upon Abraham’s story as being one of the first migration stories to be written down. Amongst other tunes on the album, both of these compositions display Leckie’s thoughts on the various reasons people leave their homes - sometimes it is to search for something, sometimes it is to escape danger, and sometimes you have no choice.  Featuring Ivey Paige and Brenda Trotter-Workman - two fellow musicians who lend their talents to the weekly services at the Parkchester Baptist Church - “Morning Sound” is dedicated to the church, in which Leckie experienced his deepest musical and spiritual development. “Perseverance” brings the album to a close on a positive note. While exploring our world, reflecting upon our deepest experiences and escaping natural disasters, Leckie urges his listeners to maintain their faith in knowing that the good place is just ahead of us.

MORE ABOUT JAKE LECKIE

Jake Leckie is a bi-coastal bassist who has toured with Eli "Paperboy" Reed, Sixto "Sugarman" Rodriguez, and Cat Toren's “Human Kind.”  This “Jazz Bass Wizard” has played the top venues and festivals internationally, including The Blue Note, The Apollo Theatre, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall, The Newport Jazz Festival, The Montreal Jazz Festival, and The Havana Jazz Festival.  Embracing a wide variety of music from around the world, he has shared the stage or the studio with Yo-Yo Ma, Marc Ribot, Matthew Whittaker, Alexis Morrast, Jane Monheit, Nick Mancini, Danny Janklow, The Harlem Gospel Travelers, The Pacific Mambo Orchestra, Cesar Orozco, The Cris Jacobs Band, Lyn Taitt, Warren Wolf, Ran Blake, Matana Roberts, Ursula Rucker, Susan Alcorn, Christopher McBride & The Whole Proof, and The String Orchestra of Brooklyn. His compositions have been featured in the Baltimore Museum of Art, the documentary Off in the Far Away Somewhere: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii, and the absurdist dance comedy film Snow Bing Bongs.  He was born in Boston, MA, and studied with John Lockwood, and Michael Formanek. Via Brookline, Barcelona, Banff, Montreal, Baltimore, San Francisco, and Brooklyn, Jake currently resides in Los Angeles and moonlights as an audio-engineer and composer for film.  

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For: Album: Planter of  Seeds- Available June 7, 2024

RAUL AMADOR
BASS MUSICIAN MAGAZINE
Check out the full news announcement here.

For: Album: The Abode

D. OSCAR GROOMES
O'S PLACE JAZZ NEWSLETTER
"Leckie incorporates strings throughout the set to bring a degree of elegance that is rare but appreciated on a modern jazz recording. "

RON SCHEPPER
TEXTURA
"As a composer, he's got a good ear for melody, but he excels as effectively in calling forth quality performances from his bandmates. In that regard, Warren and Ammann bring authoritative performances to the date, and Ellman-Bell's no wallflower either. He and Leckie animate the brisk “Bam Bam” with drive, inciting a bravura turn from the trumpeter and a rollicking, high-wire one by the pianist".  Read the full review here.

GEORGE HARRIS
JAZZ WEEKLY
"Lots of variations, but always an attractive groove underneath for support." Read the full review here.

DAVE ROGERS
WTJU
"All of the compositions are Leckie’s, but the blend of musicians adds a lot of variety and is quite effective."  Read the full review here.

DAVE SUMNER
BIRD IS THE WORM
"I like that it doesn’t matter whether Jake Leckie runs with an old-school or new-school approach, the result is a warm sound crackling with life." Full review here.

CHRIS MOSEY
ALL ABOUT JAZZ
"Morning Sound" is a soulful piece, opening with Ivey Paige's organ. Warren takes over on trumpet before the multi-talented Leckie leaps in and goes to town on bass—a jazz star is surely born. Read the full review here.

JON D'AURIA
BASS PLAYER
Release Announcement here

BRIAN HOMER
UK VIBE
"The Abode is a really strong debut from Jake Leckie – very listenable and accessible with a very high standard of musicianship – now who will book the band for a UK tour?" Full review here

DEE DEE MCNEIL
MUSICAL MEMOIRS
"Jake Leckie endeavors to create music that not only elevates but engages his musicians and his listening audience with both acoustic and organic substance." Full review here

CHRIS SPECTOR
MIDWEST RECORD
"[Leckie] really cuts loose here with a date that takes you back to the day without it being a stroll down memory lane. High octane throughout, there's just as much steak here as there is sizzle. Well done."  Read the full review here.